System for monitoring inventory and dispensing activity of a plurality of diverse beverages
A system for monitoring inventory, dispensing activities and irregularities associated with service and sale of beverages primarily, but not exclusively, liquor beverages. A processor includes display facilities and communication capabilities and is operatively associated with a scale assembly disposed in supporting relation to each of a plurality of containers associated with each of the plurality of beverages. RFID tags are connected to each of the beverage containers for wireless communication between tag readers associated with the scale assembly thereby providing beverage identification and recognition. A tracking application is associated with the processor and structured to monitor usage activities of the plurality of beverages in association with the scale assembly. The tracking application includes at least a bar monitoring function, inventory function, statistics function and setup function, each structured in association with the display facility of the processor to determine and visually generate various categories of data indicative of at least dispensing activities and inventory control of the plurality of beverages logged into the system.
1. Field of the Invention
The present invention is directed to a system for monitoring inventory as well as dispensing activities of a plurality of diverse beverages preferably, but not necessarily, liquor beverages. The system includes a tracking application including a plurality of predetermined functions and function modules which serve to determine and generate operating data indicative of regular and irregular activities associated with the stocking, dispensing, ordering, etc. of the plurality of diverse beverages.
2. Description of the Related Art
In the operation of certain commercial enterprises such as bars, lounges, restaurants, etc. it is important to maintain strict and accurate control of the various products being sold or dispensed. In particular, the dispensing of liquor beverages is of particular importance primarily, but not exclusively, due to the possibility of irregular activities associated with the sale and dispensing of such beverages. Such irregular activities may result in loss of profit due to spillage, theft or other inappropriate episodes inadvertently or purposely occurring. As such, employees responsible for dispensing activities as well as stocking, purchasing, etc. must be frequently and carefully monitored in an effective manner. Unfortunately, certain bartenders, servers and other personnel are practiced in avoiding scrutiny by many of the monitoring systems regardless of the relative sophistication thereof.
In order to overcome monetary losses associated with the dispensing and maintenance of a plurality of diverse liquor and other beverages, many attempts have been primarily directed to control over beverage dispensing techniques. However, the disadvantages and problems associated with such known systems are still prevalent. By way of example, it is known to weigh a beverage container for the purpose of determining the quantity of a given beverage in order to attempt to control the amount dispensed. However, systems limited to the monitoring by weight technique frequently do not provide an overall control and monitoring of additional potential irregular activities associated with the dispensing of the beverage as well as the storage, stocking, restocking, etc. Additional known or conventional attempts to further provide an adequate tracking or monitoring system involve the use of automatic dispensing machines, wherein the quantity of beverage pour can not be easily varied. As such, the owner or operator of the system incorporating an automatic and/or monitored dispensing machine can at least be assured of an accurate beverage pour, rather relying on the skill and honesty of a bartender or server. However, automatic pouring machine are frequently absent the capabilities relating to inventory control, management monitoring and costing and pricing of the diverse beverages typically maintained in bars, lounges, restaurants, etc.
Accordingly, there is a need in this industry for a system to accurately and efficiently monitor both inventory as well as dispensing activities of a plurality of beverages, wherein a number of commonly occurring irregular activities or episodes may be easily determined. Further, such a preferred and proposed system should provide the irregular activity data to authorized personnel for correction. In addition such a preferred monitoring system should also provide data composites of regular activities and irregular performance episodes, thereby allowing authorized personnel to efficiently determined adequate inventory and restocking requirements as well as pricing, costing and consistent vouchering between the quantities of beverages poured and the quantities of beverages sold.SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
This invention is directed to a system for monitoring the inventory and dispensing activities of a plurality of diverse beverages such as, but not limited to, liquors as they are commonly served or dispensed in a commercial environment such as a bar, lounge, restaurant, etc. The system includes the utilization of a processor having appropriate and predetermine communication capabilities over an appropriate communications network, such as the Internet. In addition, the processor includes display facilities provided both on-site and at possibly at remote locations, wherein operational or activity data is displayed. The generated and displayed data relates to the inventory and dispensing activities of each of the plurality of beverages initially or periodically logged into the system.
A scale assembly, preferably in the form of a plurality of scale structures, is associated with all of the plurality of beverages, such as by supporting the containers associated with the plurality of beverages on ant one of the scale structures of the scale assembly. Moreover, each scale structure is operative to determine the weight of the beverage container, thereby determining the quantity of the beverage within the container, in an effort to maintain effective control over the dispensing and sale thereof. The monitoring or tracking of the plurality of beverages within the system is accomplished utilizing a tracking application which is operative on the processor. The tracking application monitors the above noted inventory and dispensing activities, as well as the costs pricing and other administrative activities of the plurality of beverages.
Further, the various preferred embodiments of the monitoring system of the present invention comprise the tracking assembly preferably including a bar monitoring function, a statistics monitoring function, inventory monitoring function and set up function. As will be apparent from a more detailed description hereinafter provided, the operative versatility of the tracking application is such as to add complementary functions and/or modules such as initial access, log in/log out etc. In addition to the above, an identification assembly is structure to communicate beverage identification data for each of the beverages, as well as the container associated therewith, as the beverages and containers are “logged” in to the system. Such a registering or “logging-in” procedure may be accomplished through utilization of the aforementioned set-up function and may occur during an initial inventory set-up or alternatively as the beverage inventory is periodically restocked. More specifically, the identification assembly includes a plurality of RFID tags having specific and appropriate identification and/or recognition data associated therewith. As such, each of the RFID tags are mounted on a different one of the beverage containers and initially logged into the system and/or tracking application through an associated bar reader or other identifying procedure, wherein the code or other identification data associated with the RFID tags are “married” to a corresponding one of the beverage containers.
The identification assembly further comprises a tag reader assembly associated with the scale assembly and in at least one embodiment defining a plurality of tag reader each of which are associated with a different one of the scale structures.
In use, each of the scale structures and the tag reader associated therewith will instantaneously recognize and identify any beverage container, as well as the beverage associated therewith, based on otherwise associated with the individual scale structure through wireless communication between the corresponding RFID tags and the tags readers associated with corresponding ones of the scale structure.
As set forth above communicative association with the scale assembly and/or each of the scale structures and the processor will allow an accurate and detailed monitoring of the inventory as well as the regular and irregular activities associated with dispensing and/or handling of the beverage containers and the beverages contained therein.
Additional operative features associated with the tracking application of the present invention and more specifically the plurality of application function as set forth above includes the provision of designated function modules associated with predetermined ones of the application functions. As such, the application functions and corresponding ones of the function modules are structured and associated with the display facility of the processor to determine and visually generate data. Such generated data facilitates an accurate an efficient monitoring of the inventory, dispensing activities and administrative procedures. Also, users of the system and associated and the responsibilities and duties of each such user may be established, edited and monitored as the user's duties and activities relate to a determination or indication of irregular activities associated with either the inventory, dispensing or handling of the plurality of beverages associated with the system.
These and other objects, features and advantages of the present invention will become clearer when the drawings as well as the detailed description are taken into consideration.
For a fuller understanding of the nature of the present invention, reference should be had to the following detailed description taken in connection with the accompanying drawings in which:
Like reference numerals refer to like parts throughout the several views of the drawings.DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT
As shown in the accompanying Figures, the present invention is directed to a system, generally indicated as 10, for monitoring inventory as well as dispensing and administrative activities of a plurality of diverse beverages, such as liquors, with an conventional commercial environment, such as a bar, lounge, restaurant, etc. More specifically operation of at least one preferred embodiment of the system 10 is sufficiently versatile to determine the occurrence of any irregular activity associated with the dispensing of the beverages, their storage and predetermined handling procedures. The determination of all important regular and irregular activities include episodes associated with their dispensing, storage, stocking, restocking, pricing, costing, as well as a variety of other activities which assure an accurate accounting of the plurality of beverages. Moreover, the system 10 of the present invention accomplishes the obtaining of a maximum profit margin by avoiding and/or at least recognizing the problems which typically or atypically occur such as, but not limited to, spillage, theft, mishandling, etc.
More specifically, the system 10 includes at least one processor 12 including both display facilities 14 and communication capabilities 16. As such, the processor may be in the form of a substantially conventional PC or other appropriate processor facility which includes or is operatively associated with a display screen 14. In addition, the processor 12 is capable of communication with other processors, wherein the primary processor 12 as well as the additional processors may be located on site and/or at various remote locations so as to enable authorized personnel to monitor the tracked activities of the plurality of beverages. Such communication between the processor 12 and any one or more remote processor may occur over the Internet or any other appropriate communication network.
As set forth above, the primary purpose of the preferred environment of the system of the present invention is to monitor control and/or correct irregular activities to assure a maximum profit to the owners or operators of the commercial environment in which the plurality of beverages are dispensed and sold. As such, each of the beverages are disposed in a conventional, commercial container 18 in which the individual beverages are sold. As is well known, such beverage containers 18 are obtained from the supplier or wholesaler by the bar, restaurant, etc.
In addition, the system of the present invention also includes a scale assembly generally indicated as 20 which, in at least one preferred embodiment, comprises a plurality of scale structures 22. The scale assembly 20, as well as the plurality of scale structures 22, is structured for operative communication with the processor 12, as will be explained in greater detailed hereinafter. In addition, the system 10 includes an identification assembly comprising a plurality of RFID tags 24 each of which are secured to or otherwise directly associated with a different one of each of the beverage containers 18, as the plurality of beverages and the corresponding beverage containers are registered or “logged” into the system 10. The “log-in” procedure may be accomplished by utilization of a bar code reader or other type of reading or recognition device used to directly associate or “marry” each of the beverage containers 18 having an appropriate identification code with the identification and/or recognition code associated with each of the RFID tags 24. Because the beverage bottles 18 are quickly replaced by a restocking of the beverages that have been dispensed, at least one embodiment of the system 10 of the present invention comprises the RFID tags 24 being structured to be re-useable. Because of this re-useable feature, the RFID tags must be connected to or otherwise associated with the beverage containers 18 in a manner that will facilitate their removal without damage or destruction, thereby enabling the authorized re-connection of the RFID tags to successively restocked beverage containers 18.
The identification assembly also comprises a reader assembly preferably comprising a plurality of individuals RFID tag readers 26 associated with the scale assembly 20 and more specifically with each of the scale structures 22. Each of the RFID tag readers 26 is cooperatively structured to communicate with each of the RFID tags 24 by wireless communication. Further, the operative versatility of each of the readers 26 will allow it to sense and read any of the plurality of RFID tags 24 associated with each of the beverage containers 18 corresponding to a given beverage. As a result placement of the beverage containers 18 in an operative position in a bar or other serving area comprises each of the beverage containers 18 being placed on the scale assembly 20 and more specifically on any one of the scale structures 22. As such, any of the scale structures 22 will recognize and identify any one of the beverage container 18 placed thereon through the aforementioned wireless communication between the corresponding RFID tag 24 and the corresponding reader 26.
As a result each of the scale structures 22 will read and recognize which one of the pluralities of beverages is placed thereon. Further, the scale assembly 20, including the scale structures 22, is structured for continuous weight monitoring capabilities, wherein the weight of each of the container bottle 18 and corresponding beverage is continuously monitored and known. This may differ from certain conventional scale structures, wherein the weight of the container bottle 18 is only determined upon initial placement of the container on the individual scale structure and/or when the beverage container is removed there from. This continuous weight monitoring by the scale assembly 20 and each of the scale structures 22 eliminates the possibility of a weight variance and therefore quantity variance of the beverage by adding to the beverage or removing some of the beverage from the beverage container 18 while on the individual scale structures 22.
Another feature of the system 10 of the present invention includes the provision of a tracking application generally indicated as 30. As represented in
Accordingly, with primary reference to
With primary reference to
For purposes of clarity, it will be assumed that the authorizing user will select the bar monitoring function 32 and each of the functioning modules comprising the bar view module 40 and the live ticker module 42. Accordingly, with primary reference to
Further, each of the changeable icons 68 is representative of the existing quantity of beverage within each of the beverage containers 18. The variable nature of the icon 68 provides a visual indication in real time as to when and how the quantity of beverage changes, as that beverage is dispensed. It is of course noted that while a plurality of seven variable icons 68 are represented on the icon display 66, the actual icon display 66 will include a plurality of icons 68 equal in number to the plurality of beverage containers 18 associated with different ones of the scale structures 22. As represented in
With primary reference to the schematic representation of the screen shot of
With primary reference to the schematic representation in the screen shot of
With primary reference to the schematic representation of the screen shot of
With primary reference to the schematic representation in screen shots of
Further by way of example, the live ticker module 42 will provide an overview of all regular and irregular activities at the bar or other dispensing site. Further, such regular and irregular activity data will be provided on a real time basis. An additional example of such an irregular activity is an indication of a beverage container “time out”. Upon the initial set up or entering of the beverage container 18 in accord with “log in” procedure, a “use time” or “pour time” will be established, such as 15 seconds, 30 seconds, etc. Therefore, the bartender or server has a preset period of time of 15 seconds, 30 seconds, etc. to remove the ordered beverage from the corresponding scale structure 22, accomplish a pour and return the beverage container 18 to the same or any appropriate scale structure 22. If the pour time exceeds the preset amount of 15 seconds, 30 seconds, etc. such “time out” will be logged in as an irregular activity.
Yet another example of an irregular activity generated by the live ticker module 42 would be the aforementioned “back pouring” wherein a bartender adds liquid or liquid to a given beverage container 18. Such quantity variance will be determined by the corresponding scale structure 22 and such irregular activity or increasing quantity of the corresponding beverage will be communicated to the processor and indicated, generated and displayed to the display facilities 14 of the processor 12. Yet additional examples of irregular activities are represented in
With primary reference to the schematic representation of in screen shot of the embodiment of
As described above, the tracking application 30 further comprises a statistics monitoring function 34 which includes a functioning shift statistic module 44 and an irregular activities module 46. As presented in the screen shot representations of
Additional features of the tracking of the present invention comprise the inclusion of a digital surveillance video facility 46′ as represented in
As set forth above, visual access to any such irregular activity will be the result of a continuous video recording of the environment or predetermined areas thereof where the system 10 of the present invention is installed or being utilized. In addition, since the functions 32, 34, 36, 38, etc. are operative on a real time basis and report data accumulated on a real time basis, the video facility 46′ can be accessed and made operable for visual surveillance of a given area in real time or on a pre-recorded basis, when an initial determination of an irregular activity occurs. As set forth above, the initial determination of the occurrence of an irregular activity may be first or initially discovered by the data appearing on the icon display 66, such as by an alarm or other indication represented by a displayed change in one or more of the changeable icons 68. Accordingly, the video facility 46′ may also be operatively associated with the bar view module 40 and/or the live ticker module 42 of the bar monitoring function 32, as represented in
With reference to
Accordingly, the ability of the system 10 and the tracking assembly 30 to operate on a real time basis will allow for an immediate and real time determination and/or indication of the current inventory of open beverage containers 18 currently in use, as represented on the icon display 66 comprising the changeable icons 68 represented in
The recipe monitoring or administration module 54 is structured in association with the display facility 14 to determine and visually generate beverage component data for each of a plurality of beverage recipes. By way of example only, a beverage recipe may be “long island ice tea”. As such, this particular beverage recipe is aware of the specific beverage components, (tequila, rum, gin, vodka) and the quantity of each of beverage component required for completion of the beverage recipe “long island ice tea”. A complete track of such recipe and beverage component data will be maintained and determined so as to be visually generated as represented in the screen shot of
Finally, the options module 62 is indicated through the schematic representation of screen shot of
Since many modifications, variations and changes in detail can be made to the described preferred embodiment of the invention, it is intended that all matters in the foregoing description and shown in the accompanying drawings be interpreted as illustrative and not in a limiting sense. Thus, the scope of the invention should be determined by the appended claims and their legal equivalents.
Now that the invention has been described,
1. A system for monitoring of inventory and dispensing activities of a plurality of diverse beverages, said system comprising:
- a processor including display facilities and communication capabilities;
- a scale assembly comprising a plurality of scale structures, each scale structure dimensioned to receive a container for one of the plurality of beverages;
- said scale assembly communicative with said processor and disposed in supporting relation to the plurality of containers and operable to continuously determine beverage quantity through weight determination of the container when received;
- a tracking application operable on said processor and structured for real time monitoring activities of the plurality of beverages in association with said scale assembly;
- said tracking application comprising at least a bar monitoring function and an inventory function each having display capabilities associated with said display facility; and
- an identification assembly structured to communicate beverage identification data of each of said plurality of beverages to said scale assembly.
2. A system as recited in claim 1 wherein said tracking application further comprises a statistics monitoring function including a shift statistics module structured in association with said display facilities to determine and generate a summary of irregular activities occurring over a period of time.
3. A system as recited in claim 2 wherein said predetermined period of time comprises at least one duty shift of at least one employee.
4. A system as recited in claim 2 wherein said statistics monitoring function further comprises an irregular activity module structured in association with said display facility to determine and generate a summary of irregular activity data of the plurality of beverages.
5. The system of claim 1, wherein the tracking application associates each of the plurality of scale structures with the beverage quantity and the identification data of the container most recently received in each one of the plurality of scale structures, and wherein the identification data and the beverage quantity are continuously monitored and updated by the tracking application.
6. The system of claim 5, wherein the display facility displays, through the tracking application, the identification data and the beverage quantity associated with each of the plurality of scale structures.
7. The system of claim 1, wherein the plurality of containers for the plurality of beverage types are stored in their respective containers between a dispensing of the beverage.
8. The system of claim 7, wherein the tracking application continuously and automatically monitors an inventory of the plurality of diverse beverages.
9. The system of claim 1, wherein the real time monitoring activities include changes of beverage quantity or identification data of the plurality of beverages and containers.
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International Classification: G06Q 30/00 (20120101); G06Q 20/00 (20120101); G08B 21/00 (20060101);